New Employee Latest In Unrest Surrounding Burien Animal Control

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in an ongoing series on animal control in Burien. Upcoming articles will tell how King County operates their shelter and control system and another will be on the views of animal lovers who disagree with the CARES model. Editor and reporter Jack Mayne can be reached at 206.274.6069 or at [email protected].

Debra George, Director of CARES.

by Jack Mayne

The business of animal control in Burien has been roiling for the past several months, first over the city eschewing King County Animal Control because of cost, then over the new non-profit chosen to take over animal control responsibilities.

On Monday (Jan. 9) Debra George, director of the city’s new non-profit contract animal agency, CARES, said the former full-time animal control officer, Mike Snyder, was gone.

“We let him go,” on Monday. George said she would have no comment on the circumstances of Snyder’s departure.

“Ray Helms is our new animal control officer,” she said. “He has been trained at the National Animal Control Association (NACA). He has a great love for animals and serving the Burien Community. He brings also great organization and communication skills. We are excited for him to be part of our team.”

George said Helms went to Kansas City for his training, the same training his predecessor had.

Leaving King County
Meanwhile, there have been repeated public demands that Burien immediately go back to service from King County. Because of a contract with various cities around the county, it would be impossible for the city to return to county animal control until at least 2013. The county cannot open the current contract until it has expired.

Additionally there is a contract with CARES and George that does not expire for 28 months – April 2014.

The city terminated its contract with King County in 2010 because the county charged $250,000 a year for its service that promised one day a week service, availability of its animal shelter in Kent and emergency service when necessary. We will look more deeply into their services now and possibly in the future in another story soon.

First, Burien contracted with the operator of a Normandy Park veterinarian, Dr. Leslie Kasper but she left in January 2011 over disputes with the city.

Burien City Manager Mike Martin.

City Manager Mike Martin said the city then put out a request for proposals and George was the only respondent.

The contract with the newly formed Community Animal Resource Education Society (CARES), headed by George, took control of Burien animal care and control services last June 15. CARES will be paid $10,000 a month under its contract with the city – a total of $360,000 through the end of the contract in April of 2014.

She formed CARES as a non-profit 501 c(3) corporation “to encourage responsible pet ownership and enforce the animal laws and ordinances in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of people and animals in Burien.”

Martin said that would save the city “$10,000 to $13,000 a month over the county’s charge would have been.

“There was definitely the issue of cost and there was the issue of performance that we didn’t feel we were getting a product that we were paying for (with King County),” Martin said in an interview. “There was also the attractiveness of taking something that was in the public sector and putting it in the private sector. That was very attractive to me – taking $120,000 out of the public sector and putting into the private sector.”

George a “total volunteer”
“I don’t get paid, I’m a volunteer,” she said in a recent personal interview. “For years, I’d talked about starting a non-profit and because of my love for animals I could really get behind this particular opportunity.”

She says she does believe in the CARES program and the process.

“I am very passionate about animals and animal welfare. Some people think I am not, which is interesting to me.”

She said she researched other groups that did non-profit animal control and care.

“It is fairly new as a structure, but seems to be working. I really thought that this could work in our community and (would give) us better services than King County and ultimately serve our community.”

But is $10,000 a month enough?

“It is, right now,” George says. “This program gives better service. We have a fulltime animal control officer who does nothing but work on Burien. We have a fulltime office manager who does nothing but work on Burien and getting animals adopted out and taking care of the animals.

“On top of all that, we really do supply a good service,” she says. “We work within our budget, but like every non-profit we will be assertive in our fundraising efforts. We are coming out with out 2012 calendar of events to raise money for our organization.”

The city contract money pays for a full-time animal control officer and an office manager, plus the rent of the interim office and cat holding space in the back alley at 145 SW 153rd Street.

The money also paid for new animal control officer Ray Helms to train at the National Animal Control Association.

Everything else has to be paid for with animal adoption fees, donations and fund raising events or seeking grants, she says.

She pays for some things herself.

“People don’t realize how much money comes from my personal pocket,” George says. She said she personally paid for most of the start-ups cost of insurance and supplies for CARES, which had to be in place before the contract with the city had been signed. She said she has been reimbursed for half of her cost with the rest is still owed to her.

“Expenses like cat litter and things like that usually come out of my personal pocket,” George says.

Dogs are temporarily housed at PJ’s Pet Ranch in SeaTac owned by P.J. Seidenstricker. George says CARES houses only a few cats and kittens in the 153rd Street alley location.

CARES “took a lot of blows in the beginning” of because it did not take in cats right away because it was feeling its way on setting up a system,” she said.

“We try to keep the cats at a manageable number so that we don’t get overwhelmed.”

Euthanasia policy
She says the CARES’ policy in not to euthanize an animal unless it is necessary for medical or behavior reasons.

“Any (animal) that is healthy and adoptable” will be kept until it is adopted or transferred out, George says. “Out of the 264 animals we have taken in during the first 6 months we had to euthanize a 29 – 11 from a dog hoarding situation – due to illness or aggression. It is a case-by-case basis.”

She says local veterinarians do all euthanizing so they have to agree that it is the appropriate way to deal with an animal. It is decision by her, the animal control officer, and a vet and they all must agree to it.

“We use experts who know animals,” George said. “We use South Seattle Veterinary Hospital and we use Burien Veterinary Hospital to examine and take care of everything for animals left in our shelter. Before it goes any place, it goes to a local vet where it is looked over and evaluated and it is given shots. They have to have shots before they are sent into any general population. We have to know what we are dealing with.”

CARES pays for this and for spaying and neutering from the monthly contractual fee paid by the city.

Two of the 38 dogs rescued from an animal hoarder in Burien.

Thirty-eight small dogs were found in cages in a Burien basement in October and 11 had to be euthanized due to the conditions that been held under. The rest remain in foster care, she says. There were “significant unanticipated costs” for boarding the dogs and for veterinary expenses in that case. We reached out and received grants and donations to cover expenses.

CARES continues to work with a cat-hoarding situation from September. “We try to be as sympathetic as possible,” she says. “We have to abide by the laws of Burien – that is what we are here to enforce. So we can’t just go in there and take all the cats without proper documentation, without proper warrants or getting the owner to surrender. ”

George said CARES has a “really good” dialogue with the homeowner who was releasing some of the cats to them on a week-by-week basis and they are still working to have her release more animals this is an on going active case and we will continue to monitor the situation even after the cats are down to a manageable level.

George says that the previous board of directors had two volunteers who did not agree with how things would be done in her organization.

“We didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything. They are great people, they have been friends of mine,” she says. “Currently we don’t talk but I hope over time we will mend that fence. I think we have the same goals in mind. The process we are on to get to that goal is a little bit different process than they’d like to see. I know they are very big animal advocates.

“I don’t think we ran them out” as some claim. “We asked them to step back a bit and take a break.”

Public criticism hurt
“When I took this challenging role of animal controller, running CARES, I knew it was going to be tough,” she says but following a B-Town Blog story and photos on Nov. 16 about CARES’ new proposed new shelter there was a deluge of comments.

Of 105 comments, many were bordering on the hysterical and often showing extreme anger. George says the tone of the comments got to her – “even my thick skin can get penetrated.”

“I stopped reading the blog, and I asked a new board member to monitor (the comments) and after a day they couldn’t even take it. It is disheartening,” she says.

“We are trying to do a really good thing for this community,” she said. “We are handling the animals with as much dignity and respect as we can possibly give them, no different than King County – just as good services and in some cases better. And, yet it is hard for the community to see that and they kind of want to hang their hat on negativity and not take the time to really see what we are doing.”

“We are open five days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” George says, so people can come by and see how the operation runs. We make sure to monitor our phones 7 days a week.

“Anyone can walk in any time and see our cats in our office. With our dogs we have to respect P.J.’s because it is not an open facility where you can just come as you want. We call ahead and we make arrangements for people to see that location. Keep in mind that P.J.s is a kenneling facility that you would take your dog to when you go in vacation.”

Both the CARES cat facility and the dog quarters at P.J.’s are regulated by the Seattle King County Health Department.

“We continue as an organization to grow. We are a young organization – we are not going to open up on day one and have every luxury in the book. It would have been nice to have our own facility when we opened up, but Burien did not and we are making it work with what we have.”

Regarding the newly rented 7,500 square foot building at 909 151st, George says the city has our plans for permits and we should get them back this week. All money for our shelter will come from donations and volunteers. Once done the shelter will house all our dogs and cats for adoption under one roof. We will also have a holding area, exam room and retail.

George says the city zoning laws permit the facility just a half block from Olde Burien. She says they hope to start the building work soon and to open it in February.

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58 Responses to “New Employee Latest In Unrest Surrounding Burien Animal Control”
  1. skeptical says:

    I hope the B-town Blog will interview, Michael Snyder, Guy Knepp, Sherry Myers, and Leslie Kasper to get a complete picture about what is working and not working with animal control in Burien.

    If Debra George’s feelings are hurt by public criticism, then she should not be running an organization that takes public money. She may have had good intentions when starting this organization. That does not make her qualified or capable. While some of the comments on this blog have not been polite or sensitive, all the comments I have seen have shown a desire for quality animal services in Burien.

    CARES should provide a link to a web page that shows minutes of their Board meetings, and they should also publish their financial activities.

  2. Kyle Lehmann says:

    I’d like to thank Debra George for all her hard work, and support, in every way, for the good of our community, and the animals in our community. I’m really hoping to see this progress, and flourish. Unfortunately, people often form judgements on how things ought to be done without having the slightest understanding of the reality of the situation.

    • btowngirl says:

      most of the people commenting on here are in the animal community, whether it be vet techs who come into contact with cares issues or cat rescue people who work directly with these people and sometimes even animal control related people commenting. They know what their talking bout.

    • skeptical says:

      Sherry Myers has a deep understanding of what went on at CARES, and she made a list of specific complaints. If Debra George refuses to comment on those charges, or explain why they are not true, then the public can only form the judgment that the complaints were true. At any time, Debra George can answer these charges:

      1. Per XXXXXXXX – no current health dept. permit and must have application filed by 11/1/11 in order for the new space to open on 1/1
      2. No policies, procedures, price-list, etc.
      3. No radio for field officer(s) – staff safety issue
      4. No micro-chip reader or implanting equipment
      5. No lights for van, no shirts for office staff, no jacket for Mike
      6. Office staff not qualified, not trained
      7. Inadequate care for cats in the office
      8. No volunteers – photographs, transport, cat care, etc.
      9. No fund-raising
      10. No board meetings – legitimate 501(c)(3)?
      11. No consistent financial reporting
      12. Untruthful on reports to City (number of animals euthanized/adopted)
      13. No professional IDs
      14. Animal welfare – inconsistent with health screening, paperwork for fosters, animals records
      15. Relationship with Police-why wouldn’t they allow the director to participate in the hoarding situation?
      16. Public Relations – false, untimely announcements

      • Stop whinning says:

        I can not believe that you would take the time to make such a ludicrous list Skeptical.. If you spent some time really finding out for your self if these items are true or not you would be embarrassed by your comments. Ms George is probably too busy to address your petty comments. The important ones like permits, micro chip reader, etc are in place. They would be closed down if no permits. Why would ANYONE not want to have a chip read. CARE has vets that read them. Jackets for Mike, please. I personally saw him wearing one. Why would want to jump on band wagon of bitterness that Sherry and Guy are spreading. My dog and another friend of mine’s dog, would shake and were terrified of Posh Puppy. Does that mean their ENTIRE business is bad and no one should go there? Of course not. Why don’t you do something positive to help make this much needed service succeed? How many dogs and cats were adopted out in Burien prior to CARE? You sound like you have a personal vendetta against Ms George. Shame on you for trying to destroy a wonderful service that is so needed. Get your facts Lynette.

        • Eaton B. Verz says:

          A former cares employee wrote that list! More deflection! As a Burien taxpayer I would like to see MS. George answer the allegations. If she is so innocent that should put a stop to it! We are waiting Debra………..

      • Lindsey says:

        I can’t believe what I’m reading.

        This is why you can’t have nice things Burien! Everyone is more content on bringing people down than lifting and supporting them. Imagine how great Burien would be if we could all work together. Everyone that seems to be complaining about CARES, but did nothing when the city put out a notice for help, but now wants to complain and moan about it. AND STILL DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!

        It’s like me being mad I didn’t win the lottery – when I never bought a ticket to begin with.

        Debra George created the CARES program – for what? Financial gain? It doesn’t appear that way if she’s not even getting a salary and paid for all the start up costs herself.

        I don’t even understand the real situation that you guys are complaining about? Skeptical published a list from Sherry Meyers who supposedly has some deep connection as to what goes on at CARES, yet I haven’t seen her post any comment or even how she was affiliated. But lets take that list – which may or may not have been part of an internal email. If it was an internal email, it sounds like the “To Do” list when starting something of this magnitude. You want Debra to answer these questions but it seems like even a 3rd grader with a basic understanding of English could answer them for you. But I will take time out of my day to address them since Debra is probably cleaning cat boxes, buying supplies, feeding the animals or returning the 5000 phone calls everyone seems to be making just to see if someone answers the phone.

        1. Per XXXXXXXX – no current health dept. permit and must have application filed by 11/1/11 in order for the new space to open on 1/1 ***SPACE IS OPENING IN FEBRUARY AS INDICATED IN ARTICLE****
        2. No policies, procedures, price-list, etc. ***POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR WHO/WHAT? BECAUSE THEIR POLICIES FOR ADOPTING IS ON THE ADOPTION FORM. POLICIES FOR ACCEPTING PETS IS ON THEIR WEBSITE. – Ohhh, but there isn’t a definite price list on their site! That must mean they are doing a terrible job and the animals neglected… oh, I guess you could go in there or call for the adoption price – that is if you were really interested in adopting an animal
        10. No board meetings – legitimate 501(c)(3)? *** CONTACT THE IRS AND THEY WILL VERIFY THEIR 501(3)C STATUS IF YOU ARE SO CONCERNED.
        11. No consistent financial reporting **** WHY ARE YOU ENTITLED TO THIS?
        12. Untruthful on reports to City (number of animals euthanized/adopted) *** SHOW ME. SHOW ME WHERE AND HOW THEY ARE UNTRUTHFUL. I BET YOU CAN’T.
        15. Relationship with Police-why wouldn’t they allow the director to participate in the hoarding situation? *** ELABORATE. IT SOUNDS LIKE EVERYONE WAS/IS PARTICIPATING IN THE CASES OF ANIMAL HOARDING.
        16. Public Relations – false, untimely announcements **** ONCE AGAIN – POST YOUR PROOF RATHER THAN ACCUSATION.

        Here’s the deal – its a basic principle and I suggest you all try to follow it. It will make our community a better place. “IF YOU SEE A NEED, FILL IT”

        That’s what George and CARES has done. Now unfortunately they are having to deal with people in the community who stay anonymous and post comments based on hearsay, rather than facts. Throw blind allegations out because no one will hold them accountable. I get that there may be some genuine concerns, but this bullying – name calling – false accusations is absurd. If you go into CARES and the litter box needs to be cleaned, CLEAN IT. We can all work together, ya’know. It’s a lot of hard work people would rather point fingers – rather than lifting one.

        And just so I don’t get looped into this anonymous bull wonky
        My name is Lindsey Judd and my email is [email protected].

        • Lindsey says:

          OH And if you really need photos – check out their facebook page. I included the link in case you were to lazy to look it up on your own.

        • Stop whinning says:

          Well said Lindsey.

        • Hotrodgal says:

          I’m not even try to address some of the comments you made but there are a few that I will.

          You said:
          “… Everyone that seems to be complaining about CARES, but did nothing when the city put out a notice for help, but now wants to complain and moan about it…“

          Lindsey, maybe none of us were animal control professionals able to answer the call. We are simply taxpayers who have seen Burien cut corners and end up with, possibly, a sub-par situation.

          You said about : 4. No micro-chip reader or implanting equipment ****
          ” the veterinarians that they work with have this ability. And have to go there for the shots and checkups anyway. Its free to scan an animal. Why waste money on this equipment when its already available for use?”

          This is not a waste but part of basic equipment needed to deal with domestic animals.
          It is inexcusable to shuffle off the responsibility to others and only lost animals MAY wind up at said vet and MAY get scanned.
          A microchip reader…even a butt-basic universal one can be had for as low as $100.
          Top of the line scanners go for around $600-$700, are the full meal deal and hook up to a computer. Any of these can also be rented.
          Since animal control in Burien can’t even pick up dead-on-the-road pets in our city, at least the road department should get scanners so the owners can be notified or at least the pet can be documented as “found”.
          Oh, BTW, why should our road department people have to shoulder animal control’s job of picking up the corpse? And why should someone’s pet be disposed as trash?

          I think our road department personnel, if tasked with this dirty job, should have to keep records (including scanning for chips. If they are doing this job, which should be a task of animal control, plus their normal duties… they need a raise and that should be paid by animal control..

          You said about 6. Office staff not qualified, not trained ****
          “someone just went to kansas city for training. What more training do they need? Caring for a cat isn’t rocket science. What kind of training does someone need for that? What more training are you looking for?”

          The training referred to was for animal control officer Ray Helms. I do believe that running or working in an animal control facility (even office personnel, when there’s only a handful of people working the whole operation) do need training beyond caring for a cat. That includes knowing the laws and ordinances, keeping track of animals taken in, found dead (I already went into how I feel about that), disease control, hygiene, identity of a lost pet, judgment of whether adoptable, assessment of possibly dangerous animals, etc.

          Again, you said about:
          11. No consistent financial reporting **** WHY ARE YOU ENTITLED TO THIS?

          You can review some best practices for non-profit public disclosure at

          I’m still not sure why Burien is running a city utility as a non-profit.
          Oh, wait…maybe I know!
          Because perhaps they can write off the cost of CARES
          as a donation to a non-profit?

          HA! Wouldn’t that be something?

    • Jacey says:

      Skeptical – The so called “charges” that you re-posted again are part of interoffice documents which are private and legally protected by federal law… are foolish to take part in re-posting an e-mail that was illegally posted to begin with as this now opens the possibility for legal action to be taken against you as well. And how many times are people going to post that e-mail? It’s quite apparent that the only thing on your agenda is attacking Debra George, along with all the other negative posters. City Manager Mike Martin put out a call for proposals and Debra was the only respondent…..if you were so concerned about who would run this shelter you could have stepped up to the plate and put your name on the list! Surely you must have considered it what with all of the experience, expertise and knowledge that you claim to have! And funny enough, I still haven’t seen any of you people lining up at the doors of the shelter after work or on the weekends ready to help out – explanations? The fact that the only thing all of you are interested in is attacking Debra George is embarrassingly obvious at this point – you so called “animal lovers” should be ashamed at yourselves! With all your self righteous claims about loving and worrying about the animals and yet not one of you has mentioned even one single idea that would help the animals in question! In fact, with the exception of mentioning an animal in a personal campaign against Debra, I haven’t seen any of you talk about the animals at all! HYPOCRITES. Huh – I guess one word can say it all after all!

      • Burienite says:

        Because CARES is an agent of the City of Burien–as a contracted agency–there is no protection for emails. No federal law was broken, and if you still think so, please provide all of us with the code or law from the CFR.

  3. Lynnette says:

    When I began reading this story, my plan was to write rebuttals to the incorrect statements. However, that would take pages. This story contains one inaccurate remark after another. I agree with Skeptical — if the B-town Blog truly wants to be accurate and honest, they need to interview the people Skeptical named. Meanwhile, when I read how Ms. George was upset about the “anger and hysteria” in the 105 comments on the mess that substitutes for animal control in Burien, I had to stop and breathe deeply for a few moments. Again, I could write pages and pages about how it’s impossible to get someone to answer calls, how completely experience and knowledge free this organization is, the total absence of structure or policy, the ham handed public relations work…… I am very, very, very angry that, with an excellent animal control and sheltering agency on our doorstep, we put up with this incompetant messing around with the safety and welfare of both humans and animals in our community. And, yes, when I consider all the terrible things that will result from a continuation of this, I become pretty much hysterical. On a positive note, I am SO glad to see that the B-town Blog intends to stop printing anti-RASKC propaganda and, instead, publish accurate information about our RASKC animal shelter and the 27 city co-op that so successfully runs it. PLEASE include pictures of the two new portable buildings RASKC has just added to their complex. In fact, please include pictures of the interior of RASKC’s clean, pleasant cat building — and publish pictures of the filthy, smelly mess cats are housed in at the CARES “shelter” right next to them. To be fair, the stark contrast is inevitable when you compare a well organized animal control agency with a strong management staff, numerous well trained and experienced field officers, two veterinaries, a vet tech, a veterinary training program, 400 volunteers, and a foster network of 200 families to a makeshift, do it yourself operation consisting of basically one ambitious, strong willed lady. Nevertheless, the contrast is also ridiculous. If you are considering donating money to CARES, I beseech you to go down to their “shelter” and look at how miserable those cats are. Do you really want to donate money to expand something this bad?

    • trish says:

      Lynette – I must address you directly because you are so concerned about “inaccurate remarks.” Your opinion that the animals kept in the current Cares facility are uncared for and are in a filthy smelly mess is completely untrue. It may not be the wonderful facility that you have, nor is it the desired facility that Cares would like to have, but they are saving these animals, caring for them, loving them and finding them good homes. Anyone who thinks differently has abviously now spent any time there. Jamie absolutely loves these animals and cares for them as if they were her own children. She goes above and beyond her employment obilgations to care for these animal. This includes going in several time per day even on her days off – without pay – just to check on her babies. She voluntarily goes in to let the cats out of their kennels and get some exercise, makes sure they have plenty of food, water and clean litter. She interacts with each of these creatures and has a deep understanding of each little personality. When she is helping to match a cat with it’s new owner that is a very valuable asset. So I find it very disheartening for you to slander the type of care that these animals are receiving at Cares. Not only is your opinion and description wrong, it is slanderous.
      I would like the blog to interview some of the people who have adopted through Cares. Let’s hear an opinion from the people who really care about these animals enough to open their doors to them. You can start with me. The cat we adopted could not have been a better fit for our family. Having a new kitten in a house with kids – especially a toddler who thinks the cat is her own personal stuffed animal – is a huge deal. The cat could be terrible around children and make for an unhappy pet and unhappy pet owners. Jamie did not let this happen to our family. She knew this cats personality and guided us towards him. We couldn’t be happier. Our little one plays with this cat all day, pushing him around in her little shopping cart, dressing him up in doll clothes, taking naps with him. Thank you Jamie for matching us up so carefully. This type of service is invaluable and one that the residents of Burien should be very happy to have availble to them. Thank you to for all of the extra volunteering that you do. It is people like you and Debra, who truly love animals, that makes this whole thing really work. Ignore the ignorant and negative people around you. Continue your hard work in getting this organization to be where you are going with it. It may not be getting there as fast as some of your critics would like, but you are providing a valuable service and sticking to a pretty tight budget. Your fellow Burien residents should be very appreciative that they have serives available 24/7 now instead of just one day per week that they had with the county. Smile and stay focused on the animals!

  4. Jan H says:

    Poor Debra got her feelings got hurt !! The reason her feelings got hurt is because she knews WE the Animal Lovers of BUrien are right !!! Don’t let her smoke screen interview fool you !! I agree with Lynette go to the shelter in the alley and see how thye cats are being taken care of, Of course with all the public out cry out this they will probally clean it up for a week or two. I think the businesses behind were the new “shelter” is going should go to the city and protest!!

  5. trish says:

    Jan – you sound as ignorant as Lynette. Do you really think that just because Cares is operating out of a buiding in an alley that the animals are receiving substandard care?
    If they had a brand new, fancy, state of the art building, complete with microchipping, on site veterinarians, hundred of volunteers etc. the animals would not receive any better care. They would receive all that care under one roof but overall it would not be any better than the care they are receiving now.
    I can assure you that the animals are being very well loved and cared for.

    You have harsh criticism but no helpful thoughts. The city has a contract that it is bound to uphold. There is no going back so what positive advice do you have to make this the best organization possible? How many hours have you donated to your community over at Cares? Fostered any pets from Cares lately? If you really care so much about the animals well being you should get away from your computer and go volunteer.

    • Lynnette says:

      Sorry, Trish, Lynnette WISHES she was speaking from ignorance, but alas, that is not the case. Not one, but several people told me that they had personally been in the CARES “shelter” and seen neglected animals. I tend to be skeptical of that sort of thing because sometimes someone walks in right before the cages are cleaned or someone has over optimistic expectations of what can be achieved in a shelter scenario. So, I dropped into the “shelter” myself. As I was told, when I walked in the front door, the smell of cat droppings was over powering — even though the “shelter” was a long way down the hall. When I got to the area where the animals were, I found cats housed in dog crates without blankets or “snuggle material” such as you find in cat cages at the RASKC shelter.. Each cat DID have food and clean water. Each cat also had a catbox that obviously had not been cleaned in a long, long time. If you are a cat owner, you know that it takes a while for a cat box to get truly gross. Even though each cat had its own catbox, the boxes were full of droppings. In the course of our conversation, the lady who was there — I assume that was Jamie —- said something about cleaning the boxes every day. That was obviously not the case. Trish, I disagree with you. I do have helpful thoughts. Neglecting to clean cat boxes is a MINOR problem with CARES. There are many larger ones. Did you catch #4 in Skeptical’s list above — no microchip reader?! Let’s see, these folks have money to rent a new building, etc. BEFORE they get even the most basic equipment needed to keep our animals safe? If your dog is lost and he loses his collar and he is (God forbid) picked up by CARES, they have NO way of determining that he is your dog. That one should keep people up at night. Why is a new building a priority over getting such a basic and vital piece of equipment? In not one, but several cases involving animals in the Burien area, Ms. George has gone all Clint Eastwood on the animal owner, behaving rudely, making threats, and demanding the owner comply with her wishes. In at least 2 cases that I know of, she sent a field officer to confiscate animals because SHE decided to. For those who don’t know — the real animal control (that would be RASKC) has clear, definite rules in place defining when they will take the last resort step of confiscating animals. Generally they are armed with a search warrant and accompanied by a King County sheriff’s deputy. Animal abusers SHOULD be prosecuted and animals rescued, but peoples’ rights need to be protected also. I think everyone should be worried about Burien giving any kind of contract to an amateur animal control group believing that they can seize animals whenever they feel it’s a good idea. Regarding the contract that “Burien is bound to honor”. No, they are not. Ms. George has done a long list of things that would make it completely acceptable for Burien to cancel her contract. The contract was supposed to be for a 4 person coalition to take over animal control and sheltering. The 3 people in that group who had actual animal control and rescue experience are now gone — leaving only Ms. George who has NONE. There are LOTS of money issues here. Like the thing about trying to expand into a larger shelter building before they even have basic, necessary equipment, prioritizing use of funds is important. The city could ask Ms. George several important, money related questions. The answers to those questions might well furnish grounds for termination of the contract. If complaints are pouring into the city about poor service and neglected animals in the CARES shelter now with their small operation, why would it be a good idea to expand CARES into a much, much larger operation? No, Trish, I do have helpful ideas. My plan (and the one that I suggest others implement also) is to write the city council over and over again, begging, beseeching, and demanding that they do the responsible thing. This is our second bad experience with “do it yourself” animal control. Huge amounts of money have been wasted so far. My animals are at risk and so are yours. Let Burien leaders know that we want our city’s animal control budget to be used wisely to contract with the proven rescue and control services of RASKC instead of wasting more and more money on “let’s try this”.

      • trish says:

        So all of the odor you smelled was coming from cares and not from the Doggie Day Care? Hmmm. That must be one fine doggie day care if they are truly scent free.

        • Lynnette says:

          They are. I visited the doggie daycare numerous times before CARES ever moved into the back portion of the building. It never smelled like cat droppings before CARES arrived.

  6. Wulfie says:

    Hurt her feelings? My experience with her shows NO feelings.

    She was not very feeling when I talked to her about the poor blind cat that was dumped on my doorstep. She very rudely told me to list the cat on Freecycle or Craigslist because CARES doesn’t have to shelter animals. They also issued statements to the press and shelters around that they are taking over for Burien so no shelter would take the poor thing. When I pointed this out and asked why did they say they were taking over if they are not sheltering animals. she told me that I should have lied about where I live to the other shelters to get them to take it.

    We reported our neighbor beating his dog with a hose because it defecated on the deck it had been confined to for days. Any response? NOPE!

    Total lack of care, feeling or commitment to truly taking care of animals is the only thing I have seen! NO-CARES is more accurate!

    • Stop whinning says:

      You Wulfie are going to take pot shots at Ms George and Care because of one animal?
      I am sure there was more to this story that you aren’t mentioning. Care is a much needed service. Did you call the Police on the the dog next door? Is CARE authorized to go into someone’s home and rescue the dog? Come on Wulfie be fair.

      • Wulfie says:

        Yes, I called the police. THEY at least listened to what I said and did something!

        Also, I guess, you can’t count. 1 cat plus 1 dog equals 2 animals. Both times that I have dealt with CARES they blew me off. I was standing right there in their office because they would not return any phone calls when I had called so that was the only choice.

        If it was a child being beaten, and trust me, it WAS a beating, you would not be so dismissive! I was inside my house when I called and the police dispatcher could hear the poor dog yelping in pain as she was held down and repeatedly beaten with a garden hose! It was not the first time that this had happened either! Thankfully, it was the last.

  7. Kitt says:

    In regards to those who question the cleanliness of the CARES facility – I have personally visited the CARES shelter several times and I have found it to be as clean as a shelter could possibly be! It is physically impossible for a building housing numerous animals to have some degree of odor, as you have animals using the “facilities” at any given time… odor does not mean the shelter is not clean. Litter boxes that are sized to fit into the standard shelter sized cat cages fill up quickly – it is not unusual for a cat to use it’s litter box every hour, especially if the cat is stressed (like finding itself suddenly unwanted and homeless and now in a shelter cage with people and other animals it doesn’t know!) Keeping a litter box clean 100% of the time is not possible and it is unrealistic to expect that of anyone. I know from experience that a veterinarian’s office will clean the litter boxes twice a day, morning and night, unless there is an unusual mess or samples that are needed, and that is considered the accepted standard procedure. Get your facts straight! If you want to see filthy conditions, you should have visited the King County Shelter before it was shut down or go visit the Tacoma Pierce County Humane Society…..then you will understand what filthy really means. In any case, I’m sure that the staff at CARES would be happy to have you come in and sit in the cat rooms and watch for each cat to poop and the you can hurry over and scoop it right out! Problem solved! Sign up to volunteer!

    • Lynnette says:

      The King County Shelter was not ever “shut down”. It is running as smoothly and efficiently as ever. It rescues and cares for about 10,000 animals each year. It has a euthanasia rate of 14% — one of the lowest in the entire United States. That number is primarily composed of desperately ill, horribly injured, or dangerously vicious animals. An army of volunteers assists the shelter staff in cleaning cages and washing blankets every day. Animals are re-homed through ads on PetFinder (NOT Craig’s List, EVER) and through off-site adoption events at local pet supply stores. It has been renamed “Regional Animal Services of King County” because it is now under the authority of the 27 cities who contract for animal control and sheltering services. Formerly, it was subject to the destructive whims of the King County Council, but those days are over. I volunteered at the RASKC shelter back when it was KCACC and, by coincidence, I was down there this afternoon. Cats are housed (as they were in the KCACC days) in clean cages with a soft, pretty blanket for each cat to snuggle up in. Cat boxes are cleaned a minimum of once a day. “Cat cuddlers” play with the cats and socialize them. If the problem was a matter of CARES needing volunteers or money, I would be over there volunteering right now. Unfortunately, the problem is that CARES is a wildly disorganized, amateur effort run by a good hearted lady who knows absolutely nothing about animal control, animal rescue, shelter work, animal law, law enforcement, public relations, or animal care. The myth about RASKC offering Burien “animal control services one day a week” makes me furiously angry, but even if that scrap of nonsense were true, a qualified officer from RASKC one day a week would be better than the horrific damage Ms. George and her completely clueless helpers are doing with their ignorance.

  8. Scott Gifford says:

    Looks like CARES is off to a great start despite limited funds and having to build things from the ground up.

    Keep up the good work Debra!

  9. Get Real People says:

    Why don’t we just go with the other option discussed . Turn it over to the police, With no adoption and no shelter.

    If we had stayed with King County we would had to lreduce our police force by one patrol officer every day. So go with King County and reduce our police protection.

  10. AD says:

    I have visited several times over the last few months, different times of day, and always found the animal spaces to be as clean as reasonably possible. I got honest answers to my questions about individual animals and their temperament.
    I am sure everyone involved would like a better space, one that will allow the animals to have more room/facilities, and easier public access. Sure a microchip reader would be nice, but the vets involved do have them. I must say, there has been great communications about available animals/ found animals than previously, mostly via the B-Town Blog.
    We are in a challenging time for public money, and cuts are having to be made everywhere. I would sure prefer to see discussion about how to HELP improve our local animal control, within the current contracts.
    I can’t imagine how hard it must be for anyone, even the most dedicated animal lover, to constantly have their hard work belittled. Everything I saw was about caring and honest love for animals.

  11. mylilibug says:

    Blah, blah, blah. It’s the same 5 people with multiple user names whining about the same thing every single opportunity they get.

    Jamie, don’t even read this stuff anymore. Something stinks but it’s not litter box odor. People lie, people suck but at the end of each day you get to go to bed knowing in your heart that you gave each of those animals all you had every day, that you spent time and energy keeping them healthy and happy. Lulu can’t lie. Cats don’t lie. When they adore you as much as those cats do you’re obviously doing it right.

    • Stop whinning says:

      You got that right! You rock Debra and Jamie. Ray Helm will be an awesome addition.

      This whole negative campaign
      sounds like bullying to me. Shame on all of you.

  12. Burienite says:

    I tend to agree with one of the posters above. It seems like now this is all a big pissing contest amongst people and/or current/former employees of CARES.

    HOWEVER, I do get the impression that CARES has NOT done their due dilligence with regards to ensuring that they could meet the terms of the contract. A contract that was AGREED upon by BOTH the city of Burien and CARES. I read the weekly council meeting packets, and I have not once seen any report from CARES regarding their current and on-going status. The reporting of CARES is stipulated in the contract for services.

    Also, I grow tired of comments about how $10,000 a month is inadequate. CARES entered into an agreement with the city based on a certain price. If it wasn’t enough, then they shouldn’t have signed on the dotted line. Since you signed–quit whining about it. It is what it is until renegotiations for the next contract.

    Lastly, I also get the feeling that it’s amateur hour at CARES. Yes, much good has taken place, but I have this persistant nagging feeling that they’ll never become what they envision to be. Pehaps that has much to do with their rough start, or perhaps due to the on-going turmoil surrounding its current operation. Or maybe it’s their leadership (or lackthereof). I don’t Ms. George personally, but have had a few interactions with her over the years. I don’t get the feeling that she’s a real “people person,” or realy warm an fuzzy. I can totally see where some perceive her as abrasive and “not nice.” It may not be true at all, but when you’re the figurehead for an agency such as CARES, you have to be EXTRA careful with the way you project yourself and how people perceive you.

  13. chi-momma3 says:

    Lynnette, and Skeptical, you two are both complaining about the same things. The lack of Cleanliness, lack of money, lack of nice equipment, lack of experienced employees, and lack of volunteers! EVERYTHING mentioned can be fixed with one thing….VOLUNTEERS!!!

    Lynnette you state that there are an army of over 400 volunteers with RASKC, and you wonder why it ‘smells nice there’, all the cats have ‘cat snugglers to love on’, and it is a much smoother running place.

    People need to stop acting like they’ve done something to help the situation, and ACTUALLY DO IT!! Get off your butts, and spend a few hours a week there. Help clean the cat room, donate a few of your unused blankets, so cats can have nice snuggling blankies, go in there a few days a week after work, take your family there and spend some quality time with a cat, so it doesn’t have to be cooped up all day, and night with only a little bit of time spent with Jamie.

    If it takes AN ARMY OF 400+ volunteers to do all those things you mentioned…I’d say Jaime is doing a PRETTY DAMN GOOD JOB, for ONE “untrained, unexperienced employee”!!!

    If you have a problem with the way things are going, VOLUNTEER, and help with the problem, instead of instigating arguments, and spreading rumors! Everyone on here has just complained instead of trying to be a part of the solution!

    “Be the change you want to see in the world” – Ghandi

    And as far as Jamie being untrained, she was asking for help with the program and the ‘amazing’ Sherry you all so adore………REFUSED TO HELP TEACH HER!!! So before you go bashing an amazing person, who does this job out of the kindness in her heart, and the love for cats that she has….First look to yourself, and see if you would be willing to take a pay cut to clean up cat poop, deal with harsh uncaring people that drop off their animals they no longer want to care for, and see the sorrow in an animal’s eyes when it’s “loving owner” and only thing they know in the world drops them off because they got a new puppy for christmas, or met a new girl, and she’s allergic to dogs.

    • TryAgain says:

      Are you kidding? Out of the kindness of her heart? Jaime GETS PAID to take care of the animals and answer the phone for CARES. And since I have called the CARES number 10 times in the last 4 weeks, during their posted office hours, trying to get information regarding animal control laws in Burien and NOT ONCE has the phone been answered I’m wondering what she really does to earn her pay.

      • trish says:

        You are truly on idiot. Yes Jamie is paid – no one has denied that. If you bothered to read the other posts by people who know Jamie you would know that she spends way more time at Cares than she gets paid for. She is up there for hours several times a day on her day off to clean litter boxes, feed and water, interact and exercise the cats. She buys food and litter out of her own money -as a VOLUNTEER- and she is not getting paid that much to begin with. That is extremely generous on her part. I have nothing but admiration for Jamie for her compassion, dedication and her ability to tolerate complete strangers being abusive and judgemental. You negative people should be ashamed. How about dropping off some food and litter? Have any of you demonstrated any donations of time or money for caring for these animals you save you care so much about? What a bunch of ignorant hypocrites!

        • Marianne says:

          Trish-Your repeated name calling is just rude.

        • Eaton B. Verz says:

          Trish, so when do you volunteer? Maybe you can give me a tour! Everytime I have tried to call or stop in there is no one home. I look forward to you showing me around! Eaton

          • Feral Dog says:

            Hey Eaton,
            Did you enjoy your tour or did Trish not give you one yet?

          • Eaton B. Verz says:

            Naw, still waiting. Probably too busy scooping almond roca at cares. It’s all just a shame for the animals. I think (hope) Ms. George’s heart is in the right place but……..not real sure.The real turd here is Mike Martin! His record really speaks for itself. Could go on and on……Oh well….Keep waggin’ Dog!!!! Meet ya at the hydrant! Eaton

      • chi-momma3 says:

        Um….TRY AGAIN….have you left a message…have you tried to call at a different time during office hours, or just all at say 10 am right when they open? Or 6pm right when they close? There are very busy times and days in the office where you have to be doing other things like talking to people in the community who have actually come in to the office to either adopt a pet, or get this kind of information. Maybe she was on the phone with another person asking another question, or filing a complaint? Maybe she was in the cat room (there is no phone, in there, it is not a wireless phone, and she can’t take it into the other room with her) doing the other part of her job? Maybe just maybe she was doing the job that 400+ volunteers do at other shelters when your call was missed??

        Try again….and LEAVE A MESSAGE THIS TIME!!! If you are not being gotten back to, maybe your question is not as pressing as the list of things she has to take care of everyday with no other staff, no volunteer help, and no kind support from her community! If you’ve been trying for FOUR WEEKS to find out an answer to a simple question like that….why haven’t you taken time out of your busy schedule to stop by, and find out that information? Maybe try looking it up on the internet instead of joining a ridicuous bashing frenzy online? Why not try google/bing/yahoo searchsites instead of calling someone who’s plate is entirely too full doing a job that CARES should have atleast 3 employees managing daily, and volunteers to help as well?

        HERE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

        Now was that so hard?!?!

      • Stop whinning says:

        Seriously? Maybe she was cleaning and taking care of the animals. It may be easier to return an “important” phone call if a “message” is left. Oh my goodness how petty can you get.

  14. Andrea says:

    I am so disgusted at the hateful words being written towards two people who are only trying to do something good for the animals. Who are you people, you should be so ashamed of yourselves. Really, all things aside. Take a step back, get off your high horse and chill out. My lord!!!!!!

  15. Jan H says:

    Trish your a joke, who is pulling your puppet strings Debra ?? I am sure you are one of the new board members with so much knowledge…. Just so everyone knows I AM NOT Guy, Sherry, Micheal, Jamie, Ray or even Debra.. Just a 74 year old women who is worried about our animals here in Burien.. I have been following this CARES thing since the begining,, I own two small dogs and hope that they never get out and are picked up by CARES,, I too went to the shelter and saw the awful mess the cats were in and the smell was really bad also. No Jamie doesn’t spend her time cleaning those cats like one would hope.. Lord knows what she really does,, I know she doesn’t answer the phone, I have called there and no one answers, and I know others who have called and the same thing happens all during business hours,, OH did I mention that NO call back either… So what are we as a city really getting for our money??? a big joke,, and Debra is the punch line,, hope that doesn’t hurt your feeling to much???

    • Stop whinning says:

      Why do you and others keep calling CARES all day? What is the message you leave?
      I don’t think they should answer the phone but call back if the message warrants a call back. This way they can address the issue and see if they can help. I don’t think CARES job is to stop everything and run to a spot that has a cat or dog walking around. If they are in danger or danger to others, yes CARES should respond. To the lady who had the cat on her porch, why didn’t she take the cat to CARES. This a small and growing service let’s be supportive and help and not be so critical.

  16. Andrea says:

    hmmmmm, I just called and the phone was answered after one ring. They adopted out 5 cats and 2 dogs last Friday and right now they are waving the adoption fee for all cats, and they come fixed and with their shots. So, I ask you, how are they doing such horrible things? I really am looking for fact based answers here, not the bashing that seems to be all I see as responses. Thanks 🙂

  17. mylilibug says:

    That’s a damn good question. Why are you calling so many times? How many animal emergencies could you possibly have?

    I get the impression some of you are probably known as alarmists by your doctors and the police department. Stop being pests and wasting other people’s time.

  18. skeptical says:

    The IRS has a page where you can look up all the charities in Burien that are registered as 501 c 3 organizations. Community Animal Resource & Education Society is not listed.

    • Lindsey says:

      Way to stick with the anonymity. It must be pretty comfortable to hide behind a computer.

      So, didn’t I say you needed TO CALL THE IRS??? I did say call, right? So how come you can’t follow directions?

      This is why I know that you have to call, I’ve been working closely with several families that were caught up in a scam that promised 10 families service dogs through the Pepsi Refresh project. You can check out the story here – or tune into King5 on Monday night for the Get Jesse episode. Now back to my explanation, it can take up to 2 years for the IRS to authorize and approve the status of a non-profit. SO YOU HAVE TO CALL AND CHECK THEIR FILING STATUS.
      Now in the meantime, while the ever efficient IRS is checking everything, the non profit has to start by applying and registering with the state of Washington – Here’s the link that shows they are registered with the state – which grants temporary non profit status with the IRS –

      Did you think that nonprofits were started over night? Tell me how many charities have you started, since you seem to be so informed of the whole process.

      Once again you are throwing accusations out that you can’t back up. Quit hiding behind your computer.

  19. skeptical says:

    The reason I use a pseudonym is because this blog allows personal attacks. Instead of discussing the issues, many people who comment on articles tend to attack people who disagree with them. Threats have been made. In general, this blog is like an un-moderated message board where flaming, ad hominem attacks, trolling, and outright threats are allowed.

    I have not made any accusations. I have not insulted Ms. George or anyone. I have only asked for balanced information. Someone on the Board of Directors of CARES questioned whether CARES was a legitimate 501 c 3. The IRS does not say it is. The web page referenced by Lindsey, which may or may not be her real name, says CARES “Will file.” It does not say they have.

    The reason I want answers to the questions posed by Sherry Myers is not because I wish to cause Debra George any discomfort. If the claims made by Myers are true, then the animals in Burien are not safe. I hope the B-town Blog will interview others who have left CARES to get their side of the story. George had an opportunity, with this interview, to put to rest many of these concerns. Instead, she sidestepped many of the questions and spoke of her love for animals. While it is laudable that she loves animals, she admits she has no experience in running an organization like this. I love animals, and I volunteered 1500 hours of my time to a non-profit in 2011. That does not make me qualified to run an animal control operation for a city of 45,000.

    If I ever were inclined to volunteer for CARES or donate money, I have been discouraged from doing so by the behavior of people claiming to support CARES. In this comment thread, they have accused people who still have questions about CARES of being stupid, lazy, mean, and dishonest. If those are the kind of people George wishes to associate with, then I would not wish to be associated with CARES, whether the allegations are true or not.

    • Lindsey says:

      I’ll try to make this short.

      You say that you haven’t accused CARES or George, but that’s only because you’ve hidden behind a pseudonym posting something, from someone else, who hasn’t even posted as herself. That list you posted is full of biased attacks. You accuse George and CARES of giving substandard care. You accuse CARES of not being a legal 501(c)3. You accuse her of untruthful reports to the city. Accuse her of no fund raising, You accuse her of not taking pictures… etc, etc. Offered up not one shred of proof and had every one of those accusations debunked. Every single one of those is an accusation, made by you. Don’t hide behind ‘Sherry Meyers’ or your computer because you’re scared people are going to hold you accountable for what you write. I have no problem being held accountable. I’ve posted my real name, my real email, my real picture and just to prove it here’s my facebook, just to appease you

      Back to the non-profit because I don’t think you get it. How many non-profits have you started? I’m guessing by your answers that it’s somewhere in the ballpark of Zero. I’ve been involved on the ground floor of starting three and involved with another 12 in the process over the past 8 years. It’s not an easy task – especially when working on a budget. Its not as simple as filling in a form to the IRS and BAM! You’re listed. You have to complete a series of steps before you can even start the IRS process. That includes starting at the state level, obtaining EIN, having documentation necessary to apply to proper tax classifications, etc. That alone can take a year to have the proper state approvals and financial statements the IRS requires to even fill out all the forms (plural)
      The fact that you said even if all your accusations are proven false time after time and you still won’t be able to support CARES is so hypocritical. You have ALL this animal volunteer experience, loads of opinions, deep concern for the animals – but yet you base your decision off the way people are behaving in a comments section of a blog.
      It’s a little ridiculous.

  20. Devil`s advocate says:

    Boy, with all the hot air on this page, I can heat my house.

  21. Who Cares? cares don't says:

    I am so sick of cares, what a joke this non profit is. They should be called WHO CARES?
    because they sure don’t.
    The city should have never accepted Debra Georges proposal.

    I have my own BAD experience with cares. But right now we need to address getting rid of them. Let’s start a petition at everyone get the word out on facebook and such to get signatures.

  22. Who Cares? cares don't says:

    I put up a brief petition, if someone can do better start a new on go right ahead, and post it here.

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